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Masson, J.M. (1983). Freud, Biologist of the Mind: Beyond the Psychoanalytic Legend: By Frank J. Sulloway. New York: Basic Books, 1979, 612 pp., $20.00.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 31:739-747.

(1983). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 31:739-747

Freud, Biologist of the Mind: Beyond the Psychoanalytic Legend: By Frank J. Sulloway. New York: Basic Books, 1979, 612 pp., $20.00.

Review by:
J. Moussaieff Masson, Ph.D.

The reviews I have seen of Frank Sulloway's influential book do not seem to tackle his major thesis in terms of the historical material he uses as his sources. Sulloway, for instance, has a chapter entitled "The Reception of Freud's Theories: Myth and Actuality," in which he argues that Freud's own view that he was isolated and rejected is a myth. He enjoins us to turn to the "actual historical record," which will enable us to learn about a "series of misapprehensions on Freud's part" and "Freud's failure to appreciate" aspects of his own work. Sulloway is a historian of science, and clearly the message of his book is that everybody without this historical orientation has not been able to form a just and correct estimate of Freud's place in the history of ideas. One can only know this, Sulloway insists, from an examination of the actual sources, the printed record of the time.

Scholarship, not interpretation, is what Sulloway demands. But does he provide it? In my judgment, he does not, and this is, to me, the great disappointment of the work. The documentation provided is often unreliable. After such pretentious phrases as those I cited above, one would expect a careful series of scholarly observations from the literature. This is precisely what we do not get. For Sulloway relies on others to do this work for him. He cites, for instance, the "systematic researches" of Ellenberger (p. 449). It is worth checking at least one of these statements to see how the printed record and the comments by both Sulloway and Ellenberger compare.

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